Growing up, the running family joke was to never leave a container of raspberries in the fridge if you planned to use them because I would eat them before you could bat an eyelash. My mom actually used to hide berries under the celery in the crisper drawer to keep me from eating them, or she’d just buy two containers (one as a decoy and one to hide). I love raspberries. They are my favorite fruit by a long shot, but unfortunately for me, they don’t have a very long season. Naturally, raspberry season is my very favorite.
My mother used to have a raspberry bush in her garden when I was a child, before she gave up on it to make way for other plants. It was too often eaten by the birds (and me!) to really enjoy. The taste of those homegrown, sun-warmed berries is a nostalgic summer treat for me.
I recently visited my dearest friend, Sam, in West Virginia, where she moved last year (sadly, far away from me). One of the things that fuels my friendship with Sam is our shared love of food. Especially good, fresh, in-season, properly cooked food.
In West Virginia, Sam does cool things as an Americorps Vista at Grow Ohio Valley, working to improve food justice in the area. A perk of the job is that they have farms all over, which she gets to frolic around in as part of her job (I mean, I’m sure she does some actual hard work there, but I got to tag along and just frolic). Naturally, because I love food as much as she does, she took me along during my visit. Imagine my excitement when we walked in to one of the farms to find some organically raised raspberries just coming into season! Mental note: go to a pick-your-own farm ASAP to pick more raspberries.
Even though my favorite way to eat raspberries is by the handful, I suppose one can consume them in combination with other things—as part of a recipe, even. I don’t know—I’m still skeptical. That is, I was, until I had a cocktail, now my second-favorite way to enjoy raspberries, at Woodberry Kitchen that blew my mind.
If I were to trust anyone to do something with raspberries other than put them in my belly, it’s the award-winning chefs and bartenders at Woodberry Kitchen, who are committed to quality food and sourcing everything hyper-locally. If I’m going to be honest, I have a little bit of a crush on everyone there, just for that. I have been drooling over what the folks do at WK for years since they’re a vendor for A’s meadery… and he finally took me there for a lovely meal for our anniversary!
Because the dining room was packed (even on a Wednesday night when we went!), we ate out on their beautiful patio. Everything was prepared just so, from scratch, and truly divine. I’m sure I’ll be back to try more delights off the menu as soon as my wallet lets me… However, the food that stuck in my mind the most from that meal were the Camp Crush cocktail, which I will definitely be trying to recreate at home, and their homemade bay ice cream.
It seems obvious in hindsight that bay leaves would be lovely in a dessert, but it had never occurred to me until I tried it. The woodsy, floral notes and slight bitterness worked perfectly as an ice cream.
As for the cocktail, it was glorious. It tasted like raspberries and campfires—nothing short of my wildest summer dreams. (WK’s bar menu says it’s made with MD white whiskey, honey, blueberry, raspberry, verjus, bitter lemon, and DC nocino). Let’s hope I can find a way to make it taste half as good at home!
I can’t say that I’ve had my fill of raspberries yet, but I can say that it feels, at last, like summer. Meaning, until they’re out of season, you can find me enjoying the sunshine with a handful of berries in one hand and a Camp Crush in the other…